If you are like many aging adults, preventing falls and injuries may be high on your list of priorities.
The statistics are in:
- Falls account for more than 50% of injuries and 85% of injury-related hospitalizations for seniors in Canada.
- The Public Health Agency of Canada estimates that 1 in 3 seniors living in the community will fall each year, and many of those will fall more than once.
- Around half of these falls occur in the home.
There are some well-known and clearly defined factors that predict which seniors are most likely to fall in a given year (many of these are past or future blog topics), including:
- Problems with balance and strength and joint flexibility
- Vision and hearing impairments
- Use of multiple medications
- Poorly regulated blood pressure
- Lack of use of a gait aid (when indicated)
This week the blog focuses one of the most significant ways we can help seniors minimize their falls risk: by eliminating hazards at home. Today we start with identifying some general trouble spots. Check back later this week for specific advice about the bathroom and kitchen.
It’s far easier to trip over things you can’t see! Ensure bright lighting throughout the home, particularly the chronically under-lit hallways and stairwells.
Use nightlights in the hallway and bathroom.
Make sure switches are easy to find and reach without awkward reaching.
Clear the Clutter
Avoid leaving items on the floor and most especially on stairs. Eliminate the common habit of setting down laundry, groceries, or other items on the stairs, even temporarily.
Electrical and phone cords should be relocated, taped down, or fastened to walls or baseboards to eliminate them as a tripping hazard.
Clear the accumulation of shoes, handbags, and umbrellas near the front door. Install hooks and shelving to get items up and out of the way.
Identify and repair uneven flooring. Loose carpets and throw rugs should be either removed or fastened down with double sided tape.
Leave space around furniture. Coffee tables too close to sofas and chairs are a frequent culprit.
Place a chair beside your front door to allow you to sit to put on and remove your shoes.
Follow these general guidelines to help minimize the risk of falls in the home, and share your other suggestions in the comments below. Check back Wednesday for a breakdown of safety tips for one of the most risky rooms in the home: The Bathroom.